MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, US — Cargill, one of Russia’s largest agribusiness investors, said in a March 11 statement that it will scale back its business activities and discontinue investments while continuing to operate its food and feed facilities in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Archer Daniels Midland Co., which has a smaller footprint in Russia, said on March 14, it would scale back as well.

Cargill has a large presence in Russia, with about 2,500 employees and investments in grain and oilseed processing, animal feed, poultry processing and other businesses. The Minneapolis, Minnesota, US-based company is one of the largest non-Russian exporters of Russian wheat. The company did not provide details about which activities would be scaled back.

“Our purpose and principles have been with us since our beginning and guide us every day. We have a long history in Russia, but now is a time like no other. As such, we are scaling back our business activities there and have stopped investment,” Cargill said. “We will continue to operate our essential food and feed facilities in Russia. Food is a basic human right and should never be used as a weapon. This region plays a significant role in our global food system and is a critical source for key ingredients in basic staples like bread, infant formula and cereal.”

ADM, which has an arm of its WILD Flavors business in Russia and owns a 50% stake in Aston Foods and Food Ingredients, a sweeteners and starches business, issued a statement March 14 in which it said it was cutting back its operations in Russia.

"Our footprint in Russia is very limited, and we have made the decision today (March 14) to scale down operations in Russia that are not related to the production and transport of essential food commodities and ingredients. And we will of course continue to comply with all sanctions, laws and regulations," ADM, based in Chicago, Illinois, US, said. "“ADM is a pillar of the entire global food system. We believe it is important to stand for what is right, which includes preventing further suffering by continuing to play our critical role in ensuring all people have access to the fundamental nutrition they need.”

The war has rattled grain markets as it threatens to choke supplies from Ukraine and Russia, which together account for about 30% of world wheat exports and 20% of corn exports.

Of the world's four largest grain traders, only Louis Dreyfus Co. has publicly stated it is suspending operations in Russia. LDC operates a grain export terminal on the Azov Sea, with annual capacity of about 1 million tonnes, and exports 1.5-3 million tonnes per year in total from Russia, according to its website.

Bunge Ltd., which has been scaling back its Russian grain trading activities in recent years, on March 10 suspended new exports from Russia but said it would continue its oilseed crushing operations. 

Cargill, Bunge, ADM and LDC suspended operations in Ukraine soon after the Russian invasion as the war halted commercial shipping. 

In its statement, Cargill said it is bolstering aid to Ukraine.

“We are also increasing support of our Ukrainian colleagues and humanitarian efforts in the region through the World Food Programme, World Central Kitchen, Red Cross, Save the Children, European Food Banks Federation and CARE. Profits from our operations will be directed to these humanitarian efforts,” Cargill said.

ADM also said it would add financial support to Ukraine.

" We’re rapidly growing our efforts to support the Ukrainian people, committing more than $5 million in financial and other support, including wheat for the Ukrainian flour milling industry; working with Ukrainian farmers to purchase their crops, putting more cash in the hands of those who need it; and using our logistical expertise to import and distribute emergency food rations," ADM said.

This article has been updated to reflect ADM's on statement March 14.